Wizards Report December 29Posted on January 14, 2013 by DJ-WizardsRadio
By Dave Johnson
The Washington Wizards close out the 2012 calendar year tonight in Chicago against the Bulls. After Friday’s night’s 105-97 win over the Orlando Magic at Verizon Center, the Wizards have a chance at consecutive victories for the first time since the season-ending six-game winning streak in April.
The win over the Magic followed a familiar pattern that made the victory seem improbable early in the game. For the 12th time this season the Wizards fell behind by double-digits in the first quarter and trailed at one point 25-8. The Magic vaulted on front on the strength of an 11-0 run in 1:07 after the Wizards had a 4-2 lead. True to the Wizards’ form this season, they recovered.
The entrance of Jordan Crawford into the game triggered a rally that led to a 54-51 halftime lead. Crawford had 18 of his season-high 27 points in the first half. In addition Crawford contributed 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Nene was the stabilizing force with a season-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Nene also matched his season high in minutes with 29.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
At the point:
For the second straight game Shelvin Mack started at point guard. Garrett Temple ended up playing the most minutes at point with 34. Like Crawford, Temple also changed the game off the bench. Temple’s 6’6” size and defensive skill helped neutralize the Magic’s Jameer Nelson. After scoring 14 points in the first quarter, Nelson only finished with 16 points. Temple also accepted other defensive assignments against J.J. Reddick and Aaron Afflalo. Temple managed the offense well and only had one turnover in 34 minutes. He finished 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
“What this team’s gone through here at the start of the year, to go down, Nelson went off at the start of the game. For our guys to not put their heads down, to grind it out. We kept saying every timeout, ‘Long game. Next timeout let’s make it closer. Next timeout let’s make it closer.’ And they did. That just shows the character of these guys. They haven’t given me too much to where I’ve got to worry about, ‘Are they gonna bring it tonight?’ Even the start we had, could have easily maybe led that way and that’s a credit to those guys. That was good. Then we got a lift from everybody.”
The Wizards shot 47 percent from the field and ended the Magic’s run of 12 consecutive games holding opponents under 100 points. Kevin Seraphin had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. It was his first game in double figures scoring since the win over Miami on December 4.
The Wizards can empathize with having to go without a starting point guard. While the Wizards have had to use several combinations in the absence of John Wall, the Bulls have a veteran in Kirk Hinrich starting with Derrick Rose sidelined by an ACL tear. The Bulls hope to have Rose for the second half of the season, but have still managed a 15-12 record. Despite the winning record, it has not been a good week for the Bulls. Their game at Indiana on Wednesday was postponed by snow and then the Bulls lost the previous two games by a combined 40 points.
The Bulls had won 9 of 13 games, but on Christmas day struggled for the second straight game in a 120-97 loss to the Houston Rockets. The 97 points scored by the Bulls were actually five above their season averaged, but they allowed the Rockets to shoot 56 percent from the field.
It also did not help that Luol Deng suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter against the Rockets and was listed as questionable for the Pacers game that was postponed. Deng leads the Bulls in scoring at 17.7 points per game. While Deng scores, a lot of the Bulls offense runs through Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the post.
The poor defensive showing against the Rockets was a departure from the Bulls usually physical and limiting style of play. On the season the Bulls are fourth in the NBA in points allowed at 92.1 points per game. Noah is among the leaders in blocks (2.1) per game and steals (1.4) per game.
There was no encore for Jordan Crawford’s Friday night scoring splurge. A night after Crawford scored a season-high 27 points in a win at home over Orlando, Crawford was sidelined by a sore left ankle in a 87-77 loss to the Bulls in Chicago.